Twentieth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Twentieth Arkansas Infantry regiment was a unit that served in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. It saw service in both the Western Theater and in the Trans-Mississippi.

The regiment was organized at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) on April 9, 1862. It consisted of companies from Hempstead, Hot Spring, Perry, Pulaski, Bradley, and Lafayette counties. The first colonel of the regiment was George King of Pulaski County. The regiment was originally organized as the Twenty-Second Arkansas. Another unit also known as the Twenty-Second Arkansas fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Confederate forces in the state moved eastward after the Battle of Pea Ridge, and the unit joined this movement. Major General Earl Van Dorn ordered his army to the east bank of the Mississippi River in an effort to join Confederate forces in Mississippi and Tennessee. Posted to Fort Pillow north of Memphis, Tennessee, in April, the unit came under fire from Federal gunboats. After only two weeks at the fort, the unit moved to Memphis before traveling to Corinth, Mississippi. The entire army underwent a reorganization process at Corinth, and the unit officially became known as the Twentieth Arkansas Infantry. Captain Henry Johnson of Hempstead County was elected colonel during the reorganization.

The regiment saw action during the Second Battle of Corinth in October as part of a brigade under the command of Brigadier General William Cabell. The brigade consisted of all Arkansas units, including the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-First Arkansas Infantry regiments; the Eighth and Twelfth Arkansas Infantry battalions; and a battery of Arkansas artillery. Johnson was killed in the battle, and Lieutenant Colonel James Fletcher took command of the regiment before resigning in early 1863 due to ill health. Captain Daniel Jones, captured at Corinth, was exchanged and took command of the regiment with the rank of colonel on January 5, 1863.

The regiment served in a brigade commanded by Brigadier General Martin Green during the Vicksburg Campaign, seeing action at the Battles of Champion Hill and Big Black River before surrendering with the rest of the Confederate army on July 4, 1863. Most of the men in the unit returned to Arkansas, where they were eventually exchanged and returned to duty. Reorganized as a mounted infantry unit, the regiment served in a brigade under the command of Brigadier General Thomas Dockery. The unit continued to be known as the Twentieth Arkansas Infantry, but it was also called the Twentieth Arkansas Cavalry and the Forty-First Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Mounted). Jones continued to serve as the commander of the regiment.

Seeing service during the Camden Expedition, the unit fought at Prairie D’Ane and Marks’ Mills. After the campaign, the regiment was consolidated with the Fifteenth (Gee/Johnson) and the Nineteenth (Hardy’s) Arkansas Infantry Regiments to form the Third Arkansas Consolidated Infantry. This unit was under the command of Colonel H. G. P. Williams and served with the First and Second Arkansas Consolidated Infantry regiments in a brigade under Brigadier General Evander McNair. The brigade was part of an all-Arkansas division under the command of Major General Thomas James Churchill.

The regiment did not see any more action during the war and spent most of its time in camp near Marshall, Texas. It surrendered with the rest of the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi on May 26, 1865.

For additional information:
Bearss, Edwin. Steele’s Retreat from Camden and the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. Little Rock: Pioneer Press, 1967.

Cozzens, Peter. The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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